Home Music Sunny Ralfini: Goodbye to a Friend

The worst thing you have to do as a journalist is write of a friend’s passing. I just learned this evening that my friend, the great Sunny Ralfini, has died from cancer. Sunny (she’s on the far left in the picture) was married for 30 years to Ian Ralfini (standing next to her), one of the terrific music men still in the record biz; he’s been running Manhattan and Blue Note Records at EMI for the last several years. Sunny was well known in the music business. She ran the Nordoff Robbins charity for years and years, was popular, loved, and well respected. She was also my neighbor. We had long talks on the front stoop, gossiped about everyone.

Here is the text that I’ve reprinted from her obit in the New York Times. What a glorious person, and how sad that we won’t be able to chew the fat anymore. Sunny, you will be missed. Condolences to Ian Ralfini, but that doesn’t seem enough.

Sunny Schnier, passed away on July 3rd after a courageous battle with cancer. Sunny was the beloved wife of Ian Ralfini for over 30 years. She was the devoted daughter of Noma and Henry Schnier, loving sister of Stan Schnier, caring stepmother of Nina Ralfini and caring aunt to Michael Schnier and Jem Schofield. Sunny was born in Carbondale and grew up in Scranton Village, PA. After graduation from Penn State, Sunny had a successful career in television production, public relations, music management and fund raising. She produced “In Concert”, a series on ABC for which she won an Emmy. She was instrumental in the successful careers of Grammy award winning recording artists and raised money for the care and treatment of autistic children through her work with the Nordorf-Robbins Foundation. Sunny was a kind, loving, intelligent woman with impeccable style and taste, who charmed her friends and family. She kept us laughing with her keen sense of humor and lived up to her name by lighting up our lives with her bright smile. She will be missed by those who knew and loved her. The funeral will be private.

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
3 replies to this post
  1. I was absolutely stunned to hear of Sunny’s passing. I ran into her brother Stan on 23rd Street on Monday who gave me the terrible news.

    I knew Sunny from working in the same office space years ago with her husband Ian Ralfini and found her to be absolutely charming and what a terrific sense of humor. Always so aware of everything going on and always had the best gossip ever.

    What can I write??? Other than what a tremendous loss for Ian and Sunny’s family and all of us who were blessed to have known her. Sunny, what an
    appropriate name!!!

  2. Thank you Roger for your heartfelt remembrance of Sunny. It was a wonderful memorial this morning. So nice to see so many old friends come out to support Ian and bid a fond farewell to a great lady. You don’t know how much you will miss someone until they are gone. God bless Sunny…and God bless Ian. We’re all greatly enriched for knowing her.

  3. I too was saddened to find out today about Sunny’s passing. In the early 90’s I worked in the offices above the Hard Rock Cafe – on the same floor as Ian and Sunny’s Nordoff Robbins offices. Sunny and I bonded instantly due to the fact that we were both from PA and both Penn State graduates – and we remained in sporadic contact in all the years afterwards.

    And you are right – there was NO ONE better to gossip with. No one. Sunny knew everything about everybody – and wasn’t afraid to share this fantastic knowledge with her friends (nothing malicious, natch). In the last few years I saw her a couple of times near her home in the village – and it was so nice to get a quick hug and kiss and a quick bit of gossip before we both continued on.

    My heart goes out to Ian and the rest of Sunny’s family.

    David Shenk

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